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The Shadow-Line: A Confession

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,543 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Written in 1915, The Shadow-Line is based upon events and experiences from twenty-seven years earlier to which Conrad returned obsessively in his fiction. A young sea captain's first command brings with it a succession of crises: his sea is becalmed, the crew laid low by fever, and his deranged first mate is convinced that the ship is haunted by the malignant spirit of a p ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1915)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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John David
I picked up this book much too casually and without any forethought, and because of this, didn’t give to the book the time and energy that it deserved. This is one of Conrad’s later stories, and happens to have a lot of autobiographical elements, in that it focuses on a young man who gets a commission to lead a ship into the Orient. Conrad’s first command was to sail a ship called the Otago from Singapore into Bangkok. Despite the death of the previous captain and the less-than-auspicious circum ...more
Sylvester
(It's tough to rate books like these. For writing skill, I'd easily give this 5* - Joseph Conrad is a master of his craft, and his grasp both of the seafaring life itself and also of human nature is unsurpassed (in my opinion) by any other writer. But for sheer enjoyment - 3*. Not every great book draws me in - does that make sense? I find it very tricky to rate because of this, and have often given a lesser novel a higher rating because I just flat out enjoyed it, when a really excellent book g ...more
Bruce
This novella, told in the first person by a young Englishman who is unnamed, is set, as are so many of Conrad’s stories, in a seaport in the Far East. The narrator has suddenly resigned a comfortable position as mate on a ship, apparently resigning what he acknowledges is a good position in a fit of vague malaise, a sense of inexplicable dissatisfaction, intending to book passage home to England. Abruptly, the position of master of another ship becomes available and is offered to him, and just a ...more
Data79
"E d'improvviso il buio divenne acqua"
Il racconto, in parte autobiografico, narra della prima esperienza come capitano di un giovane uomo e delle responsabilità che lui deve affrontare, diventando uomo e abbandonando la giovinezza e la spensieratezza che la accompagna. Il protagonista deve affrontare contemporaneamente due grossi problemi: una bonaccia che blocca la nave in mare, lontano da rotte battute e senza l'ausilio del motore, e una epidemia di febbre tropicale a cui non può porre rimedio
...more
Craig
"a man should stand up to his bad luck, to his mistakes, to his conscience, and all that sort of thing. Why- what else would you have to fight against?"

On the surface this work tells a decent story with a non-preachy didactic feel. It is about a struggle for survival not by an independently strong and able hero, but a hero that uses his strength and abilities together with his crew to overcome their difficulties. This may seem formulaic but Conrad creates this world and meaning without seeming s
...more
Vittorio Ducoli
Ognuno di noi l'ha scorta

La linea d'ombra è, con Cuore di tenebra, il più noto e il più acclamato romanzo di Conrad.
Si tratta in effetti di un testo che in poco più di 120 pagine (in questa edizione) presenta una varietà ed una stratificazione tematica straordinarie. A partire dal titolo, scelto non a caso da Conrad dopo avere scartato l'iniziale Primo comando, sono molti gli interrogativi che ci pone questo libro.
Cosa è la Linea d'ombra? La risposta immediata, ma non la più scontata, ce la dà l
...more
Anna
Ah, the satisfaction of the short novel. Clocking in 132 pages, I was able to move swiftly through The Shadow-Line, which gave the narrative something of the sense of a deep inhale.

Among the overused tropes in book reviews--from 'Dickensian' to 'limn' to 'poignant'--count in the phrase 'deceptively simple.' And yet, much to my personal consternation, that's the phrase I want to pull here about Conrad's book. Because, dammit, it is deceptively simple.

In first-person retrospective prose marked by
...more
Lyn
The Shadow-Line by Joseph Conrad describes the shadow line as that demarcation line in the journey of life that divides the happy, bright, fantastic and irresponsible youth with the darker ages of manhood. Conrad goes on to delineate this vision as being beyond the “charm and innocence of illusions”. The Shadow-Line is one of his most accomplished nautical tales and stands close to Typhoon and Youth as almost entirely about the sea and man’s relationship to a vessel. Whereas Youth was of a young ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
ناخدای رمان «مرز سایه»‌ در شرایطی کاملا خوب،‌ دل از کار و همکارانش و زندگی اجتماعی می‌کند، و گوشه انزوا برمی‌گزیند، و تا مرز فروپاشی عصبی و فروافتادن به دل سایه‌ها پیش می‌رود، اما به ترغیب دوستی دنیادیده، کار جدیدی برمی‌گزیند تا از دل تیرگی مرگ خارج شود. در بخشی از رمان «مرز سایه» آمده است: در زندگی، یک «خط سایه» وجود دارد، مرزی که هشدار می‌دهد با گذر از آن، از حیطه خامی و جوانی گذشته‌اید. گذر از این مرز با گذراندن آزمونی بسیار دشوار، امکان می‌یابد. این شاید همان چیزی باشد، که روان‌شناسان از آن، ...more
Paleomichi
Alcuni libri possono essere letti ed apprezzati solo in determinati momenti della vita. Se affrontati troppo presto non possono essere capiti, mentre presi in mano troppo tardi perdono in parte il loro significato, risultando piatti, noiosi. Se però vengono letti nel momento giusto accade una sorta di magia: la vita reale e la finzione letteraria si fondono, toccando nel profondo il cuore del lettore e aprendogli nuove prospettive, un nuovo universo.
Questo libro ne è un esempio perfetto, in qua
...more
Lulu
La prima metà di questo breve racconto autobiografico (appena 160 pagine) si tiene a galla a fatica. Non annoia nè appassiona. Nella seconda metà, finalmente, si riesce a condividere un lieve senso di tensione e incertezza col Comandante Conrad e con tutto l'equipaggio della sua Otago. Eppure... eppure c'è qualcosa che manca. Il libro non cattura; non piace come dovrebbe, non ti risucchia nella sua storia semi-esotica, e l'aura soffocante che imperversa sul mare piatto nei pressi di Bangkok semb ...more
Elena Tamborrino
135 pagine di pura e perfetta noia. Alla fine, le ultime tre pagine degne di essere ricordate.
Nick
No reason not to love Joseph Conrad. This brief bildungsroman (5 cents, cha-ching!), supposedly autobiographical, tells the story of a young captain whose first command is a boat of deathly malarial sailors, caught in the doldrums and short on quinine. It's gripping, chilling, etc. No one writes about sick men on boats (set adrift in all sorts of ways) like JC. I suppose now I should read Nostromo and Lord Jim.

Jeff A. gave me this paperbook, a Vintage reissue snagged from work. Thanks, dude. Wan
...more
Salvatore
Typical Conradian fare in one sense: a man gets elevated to captain - partially because he's able to, partially because he doesn't want others to take such a position - on a ship. His first mate though, Mr Burns, is haunted by the memory of the previous captain and said captain's megalomania to drive the ship into the ground (or the abysses of the sea, your metaphor to choose). The captain must cross that 'shadow-line' between child-like naïveté and adult-like understanding/realism/sorrow. It's ...more
Andrea Bovino
Adescato in questo tremendo comando, inseguito dalla morte... adescato in questa tremenda vita, inseguito dalla vita stessa.

«No! No! La verità è che nella vita non si deve dare troppo peso a nulla, né in bene né in male». «Vivere a mezza velocità», mormorai con cattiveria. «Non tutti possono farlo». «Sarà abbastanza contento adesso se potrà continuare a procedere persino con quel passo», ribatté con la sua aria di consapevole virtù. «E c’è un’altra cosa: un uomo deve saper affrontare la sua catt
...more
Philip
Right now, I’m also reading a book called Extinction Game, a so-so “infinite realities” tale that like much current fiction (especially sci-fi, fantasy and YA) is all story but pretty poor writing. The Shadow-Line, however, is just the opposite – all style but very little plot. The story in total is: a fairly young and whiney sailor quits his ship in Singapore to return home, but instead is offered an opportunity to captain his own ship. He meets his ship in Bangkok, but then they get becalmed f ...more
Paolo
Conrad è uno degli autori più citati dai media. Provate ad aprire un giornale ed a leggere un articolo nella pagina culturale, ecco probabilmente tra le righe di un articolo troverete un'immagine conradiana. Forse questo romanzo è quello meno inflazionato, Cuore di tenebra è molto più citato. Per questo motivo ho deciso di affrontare tale lettura e devo dire di essere stato attratto anche dal titolo. Mi chiedevo a cosa alludesse. Alla fine il romanzo è una sorta di riposta al titolo. Viene narra ...more
Rebecca
I read this for my dissertation chapter on Conrad. I'm not sure if I am going to include it yet, but it needed to be read. It's a funny little story that doesn't seem to lead anywhere or accomplish anything, but maybe that's the point.
Spotsalots
I found the first part of the book oddly hard to follow (perhaps because I read it in the vet's waiting room), but once the ship set sail I enjoyed it.
Giulia
È stata una serie di coincidenze che mi ha portata a comprare questo libro, mi è capitato fra le mani e ho deciso di dare una seconda possibilità a Conrad, dopo il mio rifiuto di andare oltre le prime pagine di Cuore di Tenebra.
La storia non è tanto avvincente da tenermi incollata alle pagine, ma almeno abbastanza interessante da invogliarmi a continuare la lettura! Ecco, mi sono sentita un po' come la nave stessa: immobile, ancorata in un orizzonte desolato, che sembra non lasciare scampo, e p
...more
Tony
Conrad, Joseph. THE SHADOW LINE. (1916). ****.
This novella was written towards the end of Conrad’s career, and was meant to sum up a collection of his own experiences from years earlier when he was a young man at sea. It is the story of a young man who takes on the rank of captain and assumes his first command. The ship he is assigned becomes becalmed in tropical seas and the crew is laid low by fever. The young captain is convinced that his own incompetence is somehow to blame for the dire str
...more
Ronald
Here is the Author's Note to the Shadowline. It was not included in the early print editions, but was added by the author in response to assertions by hopeful religionists that Conrad's writings insinuate a belief in a deity...

"The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is; marvels and mysteries acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life as an enchanted state.
"No, I am too firm in my consciousnes
...more
Jim Leckband
Titles are significant with Conrad. Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, The Nigger of the Narcissus and Other Stories are in themselves great titles, but the secret sharer sauce is the weight of their words to the stories themselves - the irony of "Lord" Jim, the symbolism of the heart of the "Darkness", the mirror of the "Narcissus". So what is the "Confession" in "The Shadow-Line: A Confession"?

The story itself doesn't show anything that needs a confession. For once Conrad uses a straight first perso
...more
Riccardo
Racconto avventuroso che narra la vicenda di un giovane marinaio che, sbarcato, senza alcuna ragione apparente, da una nave sulla quale svolgeva le proprie mansione con l'apprezzamento del Comandante chiede di essere liquidato con l'intento di tornarsene a casa. Visto però che raramente le cose vanno come uno se le pianifica nella mente, il giovane marinaio viene ben presto a trovarsi di nuovo per mare e non come semplice marinaio stavolta bensì investito della responsabilità del comando di una ...more
Don Frolimo
First result: Key experience is a trap for pride. Although what is this line for? Just to devide youth and manhood? To be exceeded by moral cubs giving them necessarry lessons? Symbolic change? Right. After this content summary, there is one more shadow line. Style. I don't mean some murky recollection (old Conrad writes about his younger self). Change of narrator's perspective is truly shadowed. Or reader can follow more leading lines to make a picture of some person (situation). Ostensibly onl ...more
Mark Stephenson
The Shadow-Line: a Confession sings the praises of work, expertise, responsibility and leadership in the struggles of life. Told in first person (and apparently of an autobiographical origin), the nameless narrator is a young man in his first command of a ship who has some extraordinary adversities to face: literal doldrums (i.e. little or no wind necessary for a sailing ship to make way) disease, mental and physical among the crew, lack of medicine and struggles with self doubt in his new and ...more
by Ax
E ombre furono

Dovevo leggerlo anni fa, forse questo l’avrebbe reso meno monotono ai miei occhi. La prima parte, seppur scorrevole, mi ha annoiato per l’altezzosità intellettuale del giovane protagonista. La seconda, più solitaria, perde le piume dell’arroganza aprendosi alla sperimentazione di vita, alla comprensione di ciò che l’umano offre e alla caduta di giudizi lapidari e trancianti. Forse questo era proprio l'intento dell'autore, ma su di me — oggi — non ha avuto particolare effetto.
Benja
Bare-bones novella about a young man's coming-of-age journey across the sea as he takes over command of a ship whose (deliriously superstitious) captain has gone down with fever. I liked it a lot, specially during the mainland bit near the beginning. Conrad perfectly captures his character's wavering longing for adventure, and the dull stillness of mainland life. Reading through the actual voyage I made the mistake of waiting for the story to commence before realizing I was halfway through. I im ...more
Cameron
I was attracted to this short book after waiting at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich to meet a friend that I hadn’t seen for 20 years. I used the waiting time in the heat of summer to examine and imagine about this magnificent ship. What must it be like to receive the command of a sailing ship? How do you deal with crew that are older than you? However, this is a novella that presents the anti-hero. Passing from youth to maturity is usually for most of us not an abrupt experience; but it takes many l ...more
Ubiqua
Un veliero bloccato nel clima afoso e immoto di un oriente che si sfoca nella calura e nella febbre, il fantasma di un capitano pazzo: sono queste le sfide che il protagonista deve vincere per diventare adulto. Suggestiva l'ambientazione marinaresca, ma a tratti tedioso il racconto (e datata la traduzione di Maria Jesi).
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Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski ) was a Polish-born English novelist who today is most famous for Heart of Darkness, his fictionalized account of Colonial Africa.

Conrad left his native Poland in his middle teens to avoid conscription into the Russian Army. He joined the French Merchant Marine and briefly employed himself as a wartime gunrunner. He then began to work aboard Bri
...more
More about Joseph Conrad...
Heart of Darkness Lord Jim Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer Nostromo

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“All my moral and intellectual being is penetrated by an invincible
conviction that whatever falls under the dominion of our
senses must be in nature and, however exceptional, cannot differ
in its essence from all the other effects of the visible and tangible
world of which we are a self-conscious part. The world of the
living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is—marvels
and mysteries acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways
so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life
as an enchanted state. No, I am too firm in my consciousness
of the marvelous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural
which (take it any way you like) is but a manufactured article,
the fabrication of minds insensitive to the intimate delicacies of
our relation to the dead and to the living, in their countless multitudes;
a desecration of our tenderest memories; an outrage on
our dignity.”
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“The very young have, properly speaking, no moments. It is the
privilege of early youth to live in advance of its days in all the beautiful
continuity of hope which knows no pauses and no introspection.”
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